mind your business: Move Out of the Way
When we look back at the successful team or organization changes we've been involved in, most—and certainly all major ones—were driven by "monomaniacs with a mission." Sometimes the champion, a passionate person pushing hard for a change or improvement, had a powerful organizational sponsor and someone running interference for him or her. Other times, he or she was on his or her own at first and built a strong change coalition or team of change champions.
The change could have been in an accounting or human resource system. It could be a product or service, telephone answering procedure, training program or work process. Sometimes it was to the organization structure, marketing strategy or the very business the company was in.
Good champions are passionate about their cause or change. They are staunch, zealous fanatics. Great champions are emotional, irrational, irreverent, impatient and unreasonable. They want the change—no matter how big—to happen this week, this month or certainly by the end of this quarter. To an impassioned change champion, the sky is often falling and the situation is desperately urgent.
The improvement opportunity the change champion is advocating, is often presented as the one and only key to the organization's future. Highly effective change champions don't just rock the boat, they sometimes capsize it. They want to disrupt and demolish the status quo. Many of the best champions don't just want change; they want a revolution.
With their focus on ordered, controlled and planned "change management," many managers suppress or drive out champions. In an oppressive environment, numerous would-be champions become good little bureaucrats conforming to the official plans and obediently following the system. Others subversively continue to make changes out of sight of management or the bureaucracy. Some leave to start their own businesses, or join a less stifling, more entrepreneurial organization.